Defending the unborn with force is a biblical duty whose time has come.
Defending the Defenseless
Paul J. Hill
"The most powerful weapon for overcoming the world's apathetic response to legal abortion is to advocate the means necessary for resisting this atrocity, as required by God's law."
This is a revised version of a paper published in an anthology in the Current Controversies Series: The Abortion Controversy, Greenhaven Press, 2001
I didn't normally stand in the middle of the driveway leading to the abortion clinic. But this day was different. I was determined to do everything in my power to prevent John Britton from killing any children that day—or ever again. I had made up my mind that the clinic door would not close and lock behind the abortionist—protecting him (as he had in the past) as he dismembered over thirty unborn children.
Taking this "defensive action" first occurred to me eight days earlier, on July 21, 1994. I had a business touching up cars at dealerships and used car lots. I was working at a car lot in the afternoon, wondering who would act next, when the idea of taking action myself struck; it hit hard. During the next two or three hours, as I continued to work in a distracted manner, I began to consider what would happen if I were to shoot an abortionist.
The man who had previously shot an abortionist in Pensacola on March 10, 1993, Michael Griffin, had been dismissed because what he said about shooting abortionists contradicted his actions. But I wanted to put my beliefs about defending the unborn into consistent action.
God graciously converted my proud and rebellious heart when I was seventeen. Though I am a slow learner, I managed to graduate from seminary in 1984. The Lord then opened the door for me to serve as a minister in both the Presbyterian Church in America, and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. After seven years of rather unfruitful ministry, I turned from both these denominations because I became convinced that they were inconsistently providing baptism to infants while denying them communion. (Taking this stand was made much easier by my diminishing desire to continue my unsuccessful preaching career.) I then started my own business, and moved my family to Pensacola to join a reformed Presbyterian church that practiced both infant baptism and infant communion.
In God's amazing providence, I began to engage in pro-life activism at the Ladies Center in Pensacola a couple of months before Michael Griffin shot and killed the abortionist, Dr. David Gunn. (I knew of Dr. Gunn before his death, and had seen him entering the clinic.) Two days after Michael Griffin killed Dr. Gunn, I called the Phil Donahue Show and told them I supported the shooting. Three days later, I appeared on the show with the abortionist's son, and compared killing Dr. Gunn to killing a Nazi concentration camp "doctor."
The Lord then led me to contact Advocates for Life Ministries (Portland, Oregon). They graciously published an article I wrote for their magazine, Life Advocate, and provided the contacts necessary for numerous activists to sign a "DEFENSIVE ACTION" statement justifying Griffin's actions. After this, through another set of amazing providential occurrences, I appeared on ABC's Nightline, and justified Shelley Shannon's shooting of an abortionist in Wichita, Kansas in August, 1993.
Fighting for Life
During the Nightline broadcast, I defended the shooting on the basis of the Sixth Commandment (which not only forbids murder, but also requires the means necessary to prevent murder). It is not enough to refrain from committing murder; innocent people must also be protected.
Most people don't realize that legal abortion requires a sin of omission by forbidding people to intervene as mass murder is taking place. By legalizing abortion the government has robbed you of your right to defend your own relatives, and neighbors, from a bloody death. It's as though a machine gunner is taking aim on bound peasants, huddled before a mass grave, and you are forbidden to stop him. In much the same way, the abortionist's knife is pressed to the throat of the unborn, and you are forbidden to stop him. It's as though the police are holding a gun on you, and forcing you to submit to murder— possibly the murder of your own child or grandchild.
The scriptures teach that when the government requires sin of its people that they "... must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29b). No human government can remove the individual's duty to keep each of the Ten Commandments: these duties are inalienable. When the government, thus, will not defend the people's children—as required by the Sixth Commandment—this duty necessarily reverts to the people. You don't need the government's permission before defending your own or your neighbor's child. If the people's children will not be defended by the government, they must be defended by the people, or they will not be defended at all. And if you want your fellow citizens, and the government, to recognize this duty, you must assert it. The outrage is not that some people use the means necessary to defend the unborn, but that since most people deny that this duty exists the government will not perform it on the people's behalf. Could it be that those who point the finger, and accuse Michael Griffin of murder—even though he obviously prevented murder—are themselves guilty of complying with murder? Instead of faulting Griffin for going too far, is it possible that people should be accusing themselves of not going far enough? As distasteful as it is to kill a murderer, isn't it infinitely more repulsive to allow him to murder, not just one or two, but hundreds and thousands of unborn children?
When I first appeared on Donahue, I took the position that Griffin's killing of Dr. Gunn was justified, but I asked the audience to suspend judgment as to whether it had been wise. I realized later, however, that using the force necessary to defend the unborn gives credibility, urgency, and direction to the pro-life movement which it has lacked, and which it needs in order to prevail.
I realized that using force to stop abortion is the same means that God has used to stop similar atrocities throughout history. In the book of Esther, for instance, Ahasuerus, the king of Persia, passed a law in 473 B.C. allowing the Persians to kill their Jewish neighbors. But the Jews didn't passively submit; their use of defensive force prevented a calamity of immense proportions. (In this case, the government also permitted the Jews to defend themselves, but the morality of their defense was not dependent on men's approval.) In much the same way, when abortion was first legalized in our nation, if the people had resisted this atrocity with the means necessary, it would have saved millions of children from a bloody death. It is not unwise or unspiritual, thus, to use the means that God has appointed for keeping His commandments; rather, it is presumptuous to neglect these means and expect Him to work apart from them.
I realized that many important things would be accomplished by my shooting another abortionist in Pensacola. This would put the pro-life rhetoric about defending born and unborn children equally into practice. It would bear witness to the full humanity of the unborn as few other things could. It would also open people's eyes to the enormous consequences of abortion—not only for the unborn, but also for the government that had sanctioned it, and those required to resist it. This would convict millions of their past neglect, and also spur many to future obedience. It would also help people to decide whether to join the battle on the side of those defending abortionists, or the side of those defending the unborn.
But, most importantly, I knew that this would uphold the truths of the gospel at the precise point of Satan's current attack (the abortionist's knife). While most Christians firmly profess the duty to defend born children with force (which is not yet being disputed by the government) most of these professors have neglected the duty to similarly defend the unborn. They are steady all along the battleline except at the point where the enemy has broken through. I was certain that if I took my stand at this point, others would join with me, and the Lord would eventually bring about a great victory.
With thoughts like these racing through my mind, I finished my work that Thursday afternoon and drove home. Although at the time my thinking on these things had not crystallized, no matter how I approached the subject, everything seemed to fall together in an amazing manner. I continued to secretly consider shooting an abortionist, half hoping it would not appear as plausible after I had given it more thought.
A Window of Opportunity
The next morning, Friday, as was my practice, I went to the abortion clinic (the Ladies Center). I arrived at about eight o'clock, the time that many of the mothers began arriving. I was usually the first protester there, but that day another activist had arrived first. What was even more unusual was, after discrete questioning, I learned that he had been there when the abortionist arrived: about 7:30. More importantly, I discovered that the abortionist had arrived a few minutes prior to the police security guard. This information was like a bright green light, signaling me on.
For months my wife had planned to take our children on a trip to visit my parents, and to take my son to summer camp. She planned to leave that coming Wednesday morning and return the following week. I would have the remainder of the day that she left, and all of Thursday, to prepare to act on Friday, just eight days after the idea first struck me. All I had to do was hide my intentions from my wife for a few days until she left. If I did not act during her planned trip (since I could not have kept my feelings from her for long) she would almost certainly develop suspicions later, and my plans would be spoiled for fear of implicating her. I could not hope for a better opportunity than the one immediately before me. God had opened a window of opportunity, and it appeared that I had been appointed to step through it.
Remembering God's Promise
Saturday, the second day after I began to consider taking action, we went as a family to the beach. My wife, Karen, and I enjoyed the beach in the afternoon, when it isn't so hot.
Our three children were delighted with the outing. My son was nine, and my two daughters were six and three. We dug in the sand, splashed in the water, and walked along the beach on the wet sand. All the while I weighed my plans in my mind, being careful not to arouse suspicion.
This became a heart-rending experience that almost overwhelmed me. I doubted I would ever take my family to the beach like this again. I would be in prison—separated from my beautiful wife and children. The sight of them walking along the beach, so happy and serene, and the contrasting thought of being removed from them was startling, almost breathtaking. Waves of emotion swept over me—threatening to bring up tears in my eyes.
I could not allow my emotions to show. To retain control, I lifted my heart to the Lord in praise and faith. As long as I responded to the swelling pain in my chest with praise, I could rise above it, and still see things clearly—and what a strikingly beautiful sight it was. Somehow, responding to the pain with intense praise turned it into joy—joy as clean and clear as the sand and sky. As I lifted my heart and eyes upward, I was reminded of God's promise to bless Abraham, and grant him descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. I claimed that promise as my own, and rejoiced with all my might, lest my eyes become clouded with tears and they betray me.
All my paternal instincts were stirred as I played with my children. They enjoyed their father's attention. I took them one by one, each in turn, into water over their heads as they clung to my neck. As I carried and supported each child in the water, it was as though I was offering them to God as Abraham offered his son.
I also admired the beauty and grace of my wife. I knew that, by God's grace, she would be able to cope with my being incarcerated, but it was soul wrenching to think of being separated from her—though I knew our relationship would continue.
Though I would almost surely be removed from my precious family, I knew that God would somehow work everything out. I would not lose them but only be separated from them. The separation would be painful, but the reward would be great, too great to fathom; it was simply accepted in faith.
An Agonizing Decision
By the time the sun had set, the emotions that I had experienced on the beach had ebbed. We brushed the sand from our things and walked back to the car. Neither Karen nor the children seemed alerted to anything. Like a man savoring his last supper, I enjoyed watching them through eyes unknown to them. But I decided to suspend final judgment as to whether I would act until the upcoming Monday. After making my decision, I would then have four days to prepare myself to act on Friday, the day abortions were performed.
The decision was agonizing. I would be leaving my home, children, and wife, but I felt that God had given me all I had so that I could return it to Him. Nor was I unmindful of the impact this gift would have, or of the reward. I was also assured, from God's Word, that He would be a Father to my children and sustain my wife.
I had not moved to Pensacola for this purpose, nor had I gotten myself on Donahue or Nightline, and carried myself through them in my own strength. I certainly had nothing to do with Michael Griffin shooting Dr. Gunn, or the highly publicized Pensacola abortion clinic bombings on Christmas of 1984. I was not standing for my own ideas, but God's truths—the same truths that have stopped blood baths and similar atrocities throughout history. Who was I to stand in God's way? He now held the door open and promised great blessing for obedience. Was I not to step through it?
When Monday arrived, I knew I had to decide. When I went from mentally debating whether to act, in general, to planning a particular act, I felt some relief. Romans 14:23b says"... and whatever is not from faith is sin." If I had not acted when I did, it would have been a direct and unconscionable sin of disobedience. One of the first things I told my wife, after the shooting was, "I didn't have any choice!" That cry came from the depths of my soul. I was certain, and still am, that God called me to obey His revealed will at that particular time.
My plan was to carry my shotgun from my parked truck to the front of the abortion clinic in a rolled-up poster board protest sign. I would leave the concealed shotgun lying on the ground until the abortionist drove past me into the clinic parking lot.
Preparing to Kill
In spite of my careful plans, the morning of the shooting was not easy. Although I had gone to bed late, I forced myself to rise about 4 A.M. to spend time in prayer and Bible reading, and to prepare myself for the day. I was fully determined to act, but my usual zest, and the zeal I expected to feel were missing. The lower half of my body was gripped with a gnawing emptiness. This was not an easy task.
While driving to the clinic, I decided to drive past it first, to see if everything looked normal (I was concerned that someone may have become suspicious and called the police). Just as I approached the clinic, a police cruiser drove by me in the opposite direction. I forced my fears under control as I continued down the road. After driving about a quarter of a mile, it was time to head back, but the truck did not want to turn around; it had to be forced. I could hear the undercarriage groan as I did a tight turn around in an open parking lot. As hard as it was to turn around, I knew I could not continue down the road. Obedience was the only option.
Waiting for the Abortionist
Several months prior to the day of the shooting, GQ magazine had interviewed both the pro-life protesters and the pro-choice people (including the abortionist) who frequented the Ladies Center. This piece (published in February 1994) discussed the threat I posed to the abortionist, and the possibility of someone, like me, shooting him as he entered the clinic.
I knew from having read this article that the abortionist and his escort were on guard when entering the clinic. Jim Barret, an escort who took his turn driving the abortionist to the clinic, was described as being well armed. He was quoted as saying that, if threatened, he would "...shoot first" and "...not miss." As it happened, in God's providence, he was the driver killed that day.
Two thoughts sustained and impelled me as I went through this ordeal. The first was that if I did not intervene and prevent the abortionist from entering the clinic, he would kill two or three dozen children that day. The second, and more prominent thought, was that if I did not succeed in killing the abortionist, but merely wounded him, he would, in all probability, return to killing the unborn as soon as he was able. In the coming months and years, he would likely kill thousands of unborn children, under the security of the best police protection available. I was determined to prevent this.
As I stood awaiting the abortionist's arrival, I was struggling in fervent prayer to maintain my resolution of heart. At the end, as the moment of his expected arrival approached, I was praying fervently that the police security would not arrive first. I could still find the heart to shoot the abortionist, but, while I knew it would be justified to kill a policeman in order to stop the murderer he was protecting, I did not want to have to do it. I made an earnest and personal request to the Lord to spare me, and the policeman, if possible.
God answered my prayers, and the abortionist arrived two or three minutes prior to the police guard. When I lifted the shotgun, two men were sitting in the front seats of the parked truck; Jim Barret, the escort, was directly between me and the abortionist.
When I finished shooting, I laid the shotgun at my feet and walked away with my hands held out at my sides, awaiting arrest. (I did not want to appear to be threatening anyone when the police arrived.)
Arrested but Successful
Within a couple of minutes the police arrived. I gave a hopeful and non-resisting look to the policeman who ordered me under arrest with his drawn handgun. I was relieved when they cuffed me. I did not want to be shot, and was glad to be safely in police custody.
When they later led me to the police car, a handful of people had assembled. I spontaneously raised my voice: “One thing's for sure, no innocent people will be killed in that clinic today." Not only had the abortionist been prevented from killing about thirty people that day, he had also been prevented from continuing to kill—unlike other abortionists who have merely been wounded and have returned to “work.” The remarkable thing about that day was that, unlike the children that survived to possibly work some other day, the one that had intended to kill them did not.
At the police station, a specially summoned plain clothed officer sat talking with me for two or three hours. He had sat similarly with Michael Griffin. But I did not discuss what had just happened. I did not want to aid those who had sinned by swearing to uphold mass murder (as have virtually all those who have sworn to uphold the law of the land).
The arresting officer then led me out of the police station, and escorted me twenty yards to his squad car in front of a teeming mass of reporters and photographers. As I came out of the door of the station, I seized the initiative, and raised my voice in a carefully planned declaration: “Now is the time to defend the unborn in the same way you'd defend slaves about to be murdered!”
Soon I was alone in a large one-man cell, and could direct all my praise and thanks to the Lord. I repeatedly sang a song commonly used at rescues. The first stanza is, “Our God is an awesome God”; He most certainly is. The only way to handle the pain of being separated from my family was to continually rejoice in the Lord for all that He had done.
Breaking the Shackles of Submission
Although I did not understand the meaning of all the emotions I experienced immediately after my incarceration, I understand them better now. Prior to the shooting, I experienced the oppressive realization that I was not free to defend my neighbors as I would defend myself. Wrath was ready to be poured out on me if I cast off the shackles of passive submission to the state. The fear of being persecuted for disobeying our tyrannical government made submitting to its yoke seem attractive. My mind and will recoiled from the high cost of acting responsibly. It required an act of the will to even consider obeying the Lord.
Any nation that legalizes abortion throws a blanket of fear and intimidation over all its citizens who rightly understand the issues involved. By legalizing abortion, the government has aimed its intimidating weaponry at any who dare to interfere with the slaughter. The resulting fear of the government has a paralyzing effect on both the individual and the collective mindset that is incalculable. Anyone who underestimates the power that fear of the police has over men's minds fails to appreciate what may be the government's most powerful tool. If you wonder why so few speak, or practice, the whole truth about defending the unborn, you need look no further for an explanation: it's illegal to save those being led away to slaughter.
The inner joy and peace that have flooded my soul since I have cast off the state's tyranny makes my 6 x 9 cell a triumphant and newly liberated kingdom. I shudder at the thought of ever returning to the bondage currently enforced by the state.
What is the appropriate response to news of an abortion provider being slain by someone defending the unborn? Under such circumstances, the focus should not be on the slain murderer, but on the deliverance of his intended victims. For instance, in the book of Esther, when the Lord delivered the Jews from the Persians who intended to harm them, the people didn't mourn the death of their enemies. Rather, they established a holiday of feasting and rejoicing that continues to be celebrated to this day.
Family Neglect and Excessive Force?
Some object that by acting as I did I have neglected my family. But in spite of the emphasis the Bible places on performing familial duties, it is abundantly clear that you must respond to the call of Christ—even if it requires you to leave your children, wife, house, and also forfeit your life. To perform a higher calling, it's often necessary to leave lesser duties behind.
Others object that killing Dr. Britton was excessive. But many who hold this position would not object if they learned that, during the Jewish holocaust, someone had shot and killed a Nazi concentration camp “doctor”.
The appropriate degree of defensive force is determined by the circumstances. Force that is excessive under one set of circumstances may be totally inadequate under conditions that are more demanding. Extreme circumstances normally call for extreme measures. Would you think you had done your duty if you merely wounded someone who was trying to kill your family, if, afterwards, you had to sit in jail as the murderer returned, week after week, until he had killed everyone in your family?
Under circumstances where it's likely that merely wounding someone, rather than killing him, will result in that person later returning to murder numerous people, lethal force is justified. Genesis 14 records an incident in which Abraham, and his men, attacked and killed a group of men who had taken Abraham's nephew, Lot, captive. God later blessed this slaughter through Melchizedek (a type of Christ), who declared that God had delivered Abraham's enemies into his hand. Under these circumstances, lethal force was necessary. It certainly prevented those killed from later regrouping and returning to threaten Abraham or Lot.
Limited to Legal Remedies?
Many people mistakenly think that when the government sanctions mass murder that their responses should be limited to legal and educational remedies. But the appropriate response to an immediate threat to a child's life is not to merely pursue possible educational and legislative remedies, but to do what is necessary for the child's immediate and effective defense.
Those who believe that we should remain within the law, under these circumstances, have some difficult questions to answer. Would it also be wrong to intervene if the government was to sanction the murder of any other minority, and thousands were being slain in the streets every day? If individuals are wrong to bomb abortion clinics, would it have also been wrong for individuals to have bombed the tracks that led to Auschwitz? If this is excessive, may Christians overturn the tables in abortion clinics, and chase everyone from the premises – much as Christ cleansed the temple? If not, why not? If mass rape or enslavement should be resisted with the immediate means necessary, should not mass murder be resisted with similar means?
The Burden of Proof
It's easy to see why someone who supports abortion would accuse me of murder: those who took sides with the men Abraham killed when he rescued Lot would have responded similarly to Abraham. Suppose that, in the process of delivering Lot, Abraham had been captured and put on trial by his enemies. In order for his trial to have been just, regardless of their prejudice against him, they would have been required to consider him innocent until proven guilty. Although his accusers could have raised objections to his actions (for instance, they might have claimed that Abraham used excessive force), they could not have proven that he was wrong. It's so obviously virtuous for someone to risk his life in defense of the innocent that it cannot be proven to be wrong. And while Abraham could not have removed all doubt that he was justified, he could have raised plenty of doubt about his guilt. The many people Abraham saved could have borne convincing testimony to the virtue of his actions. The lethal force Abraham used would have appeared reasonable and necessary to them. They almost certainly joined with God in blessing him for his decisive action. In much the same way, the many unborn children whose lives are being threatened today bear self-evident witness to the morality of intervening with the immediate means necessary. As in Abraham's case, if we don't overcome all objections, and respond in faith, the innocent will continue to suffer irreparable loss.
The Priority of Saving a Threatened Child
What practical priority should be given to stopping abortion? While many people realize that abortion is a serious problem, they still categorize it as one among many other “social issues” that should be given a lower priority than family or church concerns. But it is important to understand that a life threatening crisis in any area of life normally suspends all other duties. If, for instance, you are sharing the gospel on a street corner, and see a young child run into the street, if you don't postpone your other duties until the child is safe you are guilty of gross and shameful neglect, and bring reproach on the gospel you claim to represent.
And if you would put an immediate threat to your own child before all other concerns, why is it that a similar threat to your neighbor's child is given such a low priority? Isn't this disparity in priorities the very thing that the second great commandment, and the golden rule, were designed to overcome? Did the Good Samaritan have misplaced priorities, or was the problem with those who passed by the needy man?
When Abraham learned that Lot, his nephew, had been taken captive (as described in Genesis 14), he rightly dropped everything else until Lot was safe. If he had decided that tending his flocks, making converts—or virtually any other duty—was more important than delivering Lot, he would have been guilty of a sin of omission. In much the same way, though not everyone is called to take up a weapon as Abraham did, since abortion poses an immediate threat, we must be willing to postpone our ordinary duties, and make the personal sacrifices necessary to save the innocent. God's word requires it.
Soon after my arrest, the prosecution announced they were seeking the death penalty. This forced me to decide whether I should try to resist their efforts to kill me. After some thought, I decided that it was my duty to do whatever I could to save the most people from being killed, and thereby bring the most glory to God. I didn't know for certain that my allowing them to kill me would result in fewer children being killed, but it seemed probable that this would be the result. I proceeded in the strength of this judgment.
My trial was a classic example of judicial tyranny. It bore many similarities to the trials of those who protected the Jews from being murdered in Nazi Germany—prior to the end of the war. It should be remembered, however, that soon after the war many roles were reversed, and many who had condemned the defenders of the Jews were themselves condemned.
With this in mind, Michael Hirsh, a pro-life lawyer formerly involved with Operation Rescue, presented a brief to the judge in my name. With the help of Vince Heiser (another pro-life lawyer who came to my aid) we argued that we should be allowed to show that my actions were necessary to prevent mass murder. We applied the principle of justifiable homicide to defending the unborn. We also reminded the judge that he might, one day, stand trial for upholding the abortion holocaust if he would not allow us to present the truth.
Even though 47% of the population believed that the abortionist was committing murder, the judge ruled against me, and would not allow me to voice this belief. He silenced me with a gag order.
The freedom to speak the truth—which every American should enjoy—was denied me during my trial. Even though my life hung in the balance, the court strictly excluded my pro-life views.
If I had been allowed to tell the truth, it would have inevitably resulted in my putting the abortionist, and the government that protected him, on trial for participating in mass murder. The government had a vested interest in suppressing my defense. I could have shown that not only the abortionist, but also the government could have justifiably had force used against it. Governments that sanction mass murder should be resisted, and their innocent victims should be defended with the means necessary.
Since I was denied a truthful defense, I had none. What was I to say? Since I could not tell the truth, I had almost nothing to say. There was no use in offering lame and ineffectual arguments—doing so would only make it appear that I had been given a fair trial.
During the penalty phase, I addressed the jury for the first time, and made a short statement as my “closing argument”:
You have a responsibility to protect your neighbor's life, and to use force if necessary to do so. In an effort to suppress this truth, you may mix my blood with the blood of the unborn, and those who have fought to defend the oppressed. However, truth and righteousness will prevail. May God help you to protect the unborn as you would want to be protected.
Soon afterwards, I was escorted to Florida State Prison's death row.
I could not avoid an automatic appeal to the Florida State Supreme Court. As soon as they upheld my death sentence, I waived all future appeals.
World Transforming Truths
The most powerful weapon for overcoming the world's apathetic response to legal abortion is to advocate the means necessary for resisting this atrocity (as required by God's law). Neither the world nor the worldly Christian want the searchlight of God's word focused on their neglect of the unborn, but these are the means God uses to produce genuine repentance.
Without a lofty ethic there can be no hearty repentance; without a sight of sin there is no need of a Savior. How can you expect to convict people of neglecting the unborn, and point them to Christ for pardon, unless the requirements of God's law are being applied to the abortion holocaust?
God's arm is not short. If only a few show the commitment required, He can turn the tide on legalized abortion and begin a worldwide transformation. Victor Hugo has written, “One can resist an invasion of armies, but not an idea whose time has come.” Defending the unborn with force is considerably more than an idea whose time has come, it is a biblical duty whose time has come.
God is able to bless the application of this duty far beyond all we could ask or think. If Christians will repent and take a bold stand on this duty, regardless of the cost, the Lord will fight for us, and triumph through us for His own glory and honor. Therefore, if you believe that abortion is lethal force you should uphold the force needed to stop it.
Paul Jennings Hill was executed by the state of Florida on September 3, 2003. Some said it thundered when Paul Hill was executed.